Saturday, January 23, 2010

Open Forum: Asexuality and the Sex Positive Movement

The sex positive movement embraces a variety of social and philosophical attitudes towards sexuality. The sex positive movement unlike the dominant framework of organized religion does not pass judgment on various forms of sexuality including homosexuality, transsexuality, BDSM, polyamory, and masturbation and instead accepts individual sexual freedoms.

While accepting and promoting various forms of sexuality is certainly positive it calls into question whether the movement is embracing of asexuality, those who have little to no interest in sex at all. In contrast to the abstinence dogma spread by mainsteam religion, asexuals are not chaste because they feel it is immoral but simply have a low level of sexual desire. Many asexuals consider themselves to be sex-positive even if they themselves abstain from or have a minute degree of sexual activity in their own personal lives but others feels that there is no place for them in this movement and society that idealizes the concept of sexuality.

What do you think? Is asexuality accepted and embraced as part of the individual sexual freedoms in the sex positive movement or is it ignored or bashed in some fashion?


Kate LBT said...

Transsexuality, despite the use of the word "sexuality" in its construction, is not a sexuality issue. It's an issue of brain sex differing from physical sex. Thanks :)

Queers United said...

Right but transsexuality is still included in sex positive movement because it affirms peoples right to gender identity and also accepts that sexuality is not just based on bio male/female binary but people can be sexually involved with genderqueer, androgynous people, etc.

Anonymous said...

For one thing if you look at definition or actually talk to asexuals they will tell you they have a sexuality and various forms.

Though the definintion for Asexuality is not having physical attraction at AVEN. Not about being celibate, not have sexuality, there is no you must do to be true asexual like most sexual orientations.

I am asexual because I rarely feel sexual attracted to others but I have various types of sexual, romantic intimate needs and even S&M interest. There is no difference me or anyone else as far as sexual needs except I am just not often going to put myself out there and have sex with someone else nor feel sexual desire or attraction someone else.

Anonymous said...

Asexuality probably isn't understood by most, sex-positive or not. I often get an "I'm sorry" when I mention my non-existent sex life. Why would they need to feel "sorry", when I'm getting the amount of sex I really need: none?

It seems, in my experience, that most "sex-positive" people view that to mean "has lots of sex, with whomever they want". Sometimes I feel a little angry, that they seem to want to rub my nose in their sexuality, while viewing mine as a failing of some kind.

Kae said...

First, the graph/diagram is not correct, because it assumes that asexuality and homo-, hetero-, and bisexuality are mutually exclusive. This is not the case, and an asexual individual can also identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or a variety of other identities.

Overall, the sex positive movement is very supporting of asexuality, for it acknowledges a variety of unique sexualities, including minimal sexuality of lack of one. However, some asexual individuals may face hostility from sex positive persons who may believe that lack of a sexuality is pathological and unhealthy, or they may feel uncomfortable with the assumption that everyone is sexual (perhaps we could call this sexual-normativity?).

Queers United said...

anon 1:38 How do you feel the sex positive movement regards you being that you are asexual but also have some sexual, romantic and kink desires?

anon 2:02 I definitely hear you, whenever I discuss asexuality people simply say "that sucks and those people are missing out" and I respond that they aren't missing out anymore than the sexually active person is missing out on other aspects of life, it just isn't a dilemma for asexuals and they don't care.

kaeklep I didn't view the diagram in that way because I saw it as saying asexuality lies outside of the sexual spectrum, but that asexuals can still identify as homo-romantic, bi-romantic, str8 A's. I like the term sexual normativity it should definitely be used to describe what you and anon above are talking about.

Shawn Landis, Philadelphia Asexual Examiner said...

Almost all asexuals are not against sex, so long as they are not personally involved. A few even like sex, they jut dont feel a deep and abiding need for it.

The problem is not with the movement, but rather with soceity and individual attitudes.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty simple: you do what feels good, and don't do what doesn't. Queer folks don't let social norms get in the way of that.

I think asexual folks would probably not identify as queer, simply because they don't care. There's no "asexual pride" parades. No movement. No real interest in discussing something that, to them, is completely superfluous.

Queers United said...

Well Positive most of the asexuals I know actually do consider themselves queer because by definition they differ from the hetero & sexual norm. There are also Asexual pride gatherings, meetings, and even a contingent in parades.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with asexuals in the sex-positive movement mostly stems from a lack of understanding that asexuals exist at all. When you're trying to get across the idea that sex is good and fun and not shameful in the middle of a culture that things quite differently, it can be easy to forget about the fact that some people just don't care for sex. Lack of recognition leads to lack of acknowledgement leads to asexuals feeling alienated.

Nevertheless, as an asexual, I like the sex-positive movement. I actually hope that it leads to more positive asexual acceptance because I feel that if we can get society to accept "deviations" in other senses, possibly it can come round to accepting the "deviation" of being completely uninterested. However, I feel that has a much higher chance of happening if the movement acknowledges that asexuals exist, which I confess I haven't seen.

Addressing some of what other posters have commented: I think what Kaeklep is referring to is the concept of romantic orientation, which I would argue should go on its own scale. I think that simplifying romantic asexuals into "asexuals with an Xsexual identity" leads to confusion, because having an asexual identity and a bisexual identity are mutually exclusive. Having an asexual identity and a biromantic identity are not.

Regarding asexual identification as queer, I personally identify as queer because I am very much "outside the norm." I certainly can't identify as straight/mainstream, and I have my own social issues related to not following the heterosexual norms. However, there are asexuals who do not identify as queer, too (largely heteroromantic ones, I think). There doesn't seem to be much consensus on that within the asexual community.

Anonymous said...

wow i'm so glad i found this article/comments. now i know i'm not alone in my feelings about sex and sexuality. i also dont feel the need for sex but i love the human form/body especially the female body so i'm usually categorized as a lesbian. of course i dont mind either way and i was even in a 5 year relationship with another woman but i'm often pushed to play a more active role (mainly my friends telling me to "get laid already") i do fantasize about different sexual partners but its different in practice. in my relationship, a lot of the trouble was that i didnt want sex as much as my partner, and couldnt get into it even if i tried.
now that i know im not alone and that there are others its like affirmation. this is a group and should be counted in the sex positive movement.

Queers United said...

Anon welcome you are not alone! Feel free to make a google username and join our community. Also has many forums with thousands of others who feel like you.

bebegurl said...

where in the world is pansexuality on the chart because it seems to me that pansexuality is similar to transexuality to me.(which is the correct term) think about it being attracted people of different binary sex is pansexuality. so not really transexuality.

K' said...

sciatrix: I wouldn't say having an asexual identity and a bisexual or any other -sexual identity are mutually exclusive. I, for example, consider myself asexual and homosexual, the latter because I am sexually attracted to men, the former because I have no interest in intimacy or relationships with anyone. To say those identities are mutually exclusive - that is, to say that I should not consider myself "homosexual" because I don't actually want to have sex with men - makes sexual identity about the actual act of having sex, which, of course, it isn't. However, I'm also an asexual that does have sexual feelings/attractions, and for those that don't at all, it could be a different matter; it's a purely individual determination.

As far as the sex positive movement goes, I'll admit that I don't know much about it, but it sounds like a movement of which I would definitely like to be a part. I think asexuality is something that just needs to be talked about more in general, however. Most of my friends - even those involved in the LGBTQQI rights movement - simply don't understand what the term means, or that it can apply to a number of different personal views or situations. It's a very misunderstood term, but as of yet I haven't seen much discrimination because of it, and that's likely why it hardly ever gets brought up.

Sara Brooks said...

"I think asexual folks would probably not identify as queer, simply because they don't care. There's no "asexual pride" parades. No movement. No real interest in discussing something that, to them, is completely superfluous."

I am another asexual who identifies as queer more often than not. I find that my (a)sexuality is so complicated, that unless it's really your business, I go by queer.

Also, I find both at AVEN and around the asexual blogoshpere that sex & sex positivity are frequent topics. I don't think I've ever met an asexual person who wasn't sex positive; some of them don't enjoy talking about sex (ie, me), but hardly any of them are anti-sex.

goethechosemercy said...

Most asexuals are sex-positive individuals. They may be indifferent to sex themselves, but they are not averse to the sexual dimension of human nature generally.
There are such people as antisexuals, and from time to time, they do post at AVEN.
Their intensity is something I and others have found unpleasant to read.

dolo said...

Wow, what a topic. All I can say is that I am glad this question is being asked. My experience growing up as an asexual in a a variety of sex-positive queer communities around the U.S. is that asexuality is certainly not accepted. I'm not saying that asexuality doesn't meet all of the theoretical standards that would have it sit well with sex-positivity, but in real life it is just something that doesn't often go over well with the sex-positive crowd. Yet. The number of times I have stated to my own best friends (all of whom have been involved in sex positive - queer activism) that I am asexual and HAVEN'T gotten looks of utter disgust and disappointment I can count on one hand- and still have room leftover to use chopsticks.

This post is so important to me simply because the amount of degradation I have received - from dirty looks to ostracism to straight up ABUSE-- from sex positive folk whom I looked up to as radically knowledgeable and was otherwise on perfectly good terms with has driven me to consider suicide so many times. And for what? While I may unknowingly exhibit homophobic or transphobic or not-so-sex-positive tendencies from time to time (don't we all? We were all born and bred in a homphobic, transphobic, sexually conflicted society, afterall), I have always acted in support of and have been encouraging toward the sex-positive attitudes of the (mostly queer) people I have known. I agree with the many people who have stated before me that there is a serious lack awareness in so-called sex positive circles about asexuality. So as I've already let you know where I can come from, let me finish by telling you where I hop we can go, together:

Expressing my asexuality is the most positive and empowered sexual choice I can make. It has nothing to do with you or your sexuality. It is not meant to be a political statement. It makes no claims about the moral underpinnings of any other kind of sexual expression. It is just the best choice for me -- and believe me, it's not one that comes easy.

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